As a coach, I often use scaling – you know the kind of thing: ‘On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I’m not going to do it and 10 is I’ve got this nailed, how committed are you to taking this action?’
I’ve been working with one particular client for several months now and I wanted to get his feedback on the progress he’d made in a couple of the priority areas highlighted by the wheel of work he had produced in his first session.
I asked Richard* how he’d rate his performance in one area now on a scale of one to ten – his previous score had been 4. He thought for a moment and gave himself 8. Then his face clouded over and he frowned. ‘Actually’ he said, ‘is that justified? It doesn’t feel that different.’ I’d heard feedback from others which suggested that his 8 was definitely justified so I tried something new.
‘What would it be different …?’ I started to ask.
‘If I were to give myself a 9?’ Richard jumped in. ‘I knew you were going to ask me that. Well, I think …’
Now it was my turn to jump in. ‘Actually, I was going to ask you what would it be different if you were at a 6 at the moment?’
Richard started to tell me what he wouldn’t be doing that he is doing now, how he’d be feeling, what he’d be aiming towards. Then we moved back down the scale to a 5. Again, he described what a 5 would be like.
Finally, I asked him to talk about what it had been like to be a 4. ‘Wow, when I look back to how I used to be, that seems a million miles away from now. Even talking about being a 5 or a 6 has made me remember what I’ve actually done over the last few months and to see the progress I’ve made. I am totally worth an 8 now.’
Rather than aiming to step up the scale, stepping back down had helped Richard notice his progress. He’d been specific about what he’d achieved at each stage and had been able to take stock of the steps he’d taken and the results he had achieved. His confidence was restored and he was ready to plan how he’d move up to a 9. Counter-intuitive as it may have felt to go backwards, it helped me to help Richard move forwards.
Today’s pebble for your thoughts: do you need to de-scale? Can you use this technique to notice and celebrate progress?
What do you think?
* As always, I have changed my client’s name and share this story with permission.